We believe in equity.
We know we’re all in this together – and our collective economic, cultural and civic futures depend upon success in higher education for all people, not just the most economically secure. We will move beyond lip service, recognizing that while data disaggregation is an essential starting point, we must do more in our pursuit of concrete actions proven to permanently close educational achievement gaps for those most often left behind: students of color, low-income students, first-generation students and older students. We support students of high ability and high need and reject low expectations.
Make a strong case
Making a strong case for equity in college completion work is itself an important component of a scale effort. The Complete College Alliance Team must review and present disaggregated success metrics to show that attainment goals cannot be accomplished without intentional efforts to close achievement gaps. The Complete College Alliance Team must communicate equity goals, as well as the related strategies for achieving them, in ways that will speak to and motivate various audiences to take action. (See Communications Scaling Standards for more.)
The Standard is met when a clear, data-driven case for an equity agenda has been developed and publicized.
It is important that the Complete College Alliance Team dedicates itself to identifying and closing established achievement gaps. The team’s Equity Lead must hold the team accountable for that commitment. It is equally important that all institutions, including the most selective, put forth their own commitment to permanently closing achievement gaps for all postsecondary students, not just the students currently enrolled at their institutions.
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team and Institutional Leaders have publicly committed to a goal of closing achievement gaps by a date certain.
When tackling issues as sensitive and complex as education, race, income, and employment, explicit efforts to build and nurture trust are essential. The Complete College Alliance Team must deepen partnerships with institutions that serve the targeted populations. Strategies must be customized to meet the context of these institutions, but not avoided because of that context. The advice of students, diversity experts, community organizations, and those with experience serving target populations must be heeded.
The Standard is met when leaders of institutions serving targeted populations agree they have strong working relationships with higher education leaders and policymakers across the state or region and that their expertise and perspective influence decisions.
Focus attention, support, and resources where they matter most
When a Complete College Alliance Team is committed to scaling college completion strategies, it must prioritize support for institutions that serve high populations of low-income, minority, and adult students by providing sufficient resources and support for these institutions to achieve scale.
The Standard is met when institutions serving underrepresented populations agree they have the support necessary to scale and sustain completion and equity strategies.
Align financial incentives to equity goals
If equity goals are at odds with state financial incentives and accountability measures, the Complete College Alliance Team should expect friction between policy leaders and institutions serving target populations, which in turn stagnates progress. Policy leaders must design funding formulas to incentivize the closing of achievement gaps and reward institutions that have demonstrated their commitment to serving underserved students.
The Standard is met when institutional funding is directly and explicitly tied to the outcomes of target populations based on race, age, or income.
Safeguard equity throughout scaling efforts
The Complete College Alliance Team, with leadership from its Equity Lead, must relentlessly monitor the results of scaling efforts to verify that they close gaps for underrepresented and lower-performing populations, and adjust as necessary. Structural changes may not be enough to close gaps, necessitating more targeted interventions to address the unique challenges of each underserved student population.
The Standard is met when the Complete College Alliance Team publishes data proving that the strategies they implemented narrowed achievement gaps.
Embed equity in each of the Scaling Standards
The work of creating more equitable outcomes must be continually top of mind for the Policy, Metrics and Evidence, Communications and Implementation Leads of the Complete College Alliance Team. While it is unrealistic to believe progress can be made without a single point of ownership, it is equally unlikely that the Equity Lead can make progress unless equity goals heavily influence the work of others on the Complete College Alliance Team. The Equity Lead must work directly with each team member to explore ways to embed equity goals into their own daily work.
The Standard is met when all members of the Complete College Alliance Team have engaged in meaningful conversation with the Equity Lead to focus their own efforts more intentionally on equity and have changed the way they do their work as a result.
For Complete College Alliance Team and Campus Implementation Teams that commit to these scaling standards, Complete College America commits the following resources in return:
- Disaggregated data from the Complete College America collection process to help shape conversations and goal-setting and drive reform
- Specialized projects for minority-serving institutions
- Sample communications language that highlights the economic and moral imperatives for closing achievement gaps
- Expert Advice on constructing an outcomes-based funding model that appropriately rewards improvements with underrepresented populations